R. C. Lucas, Sculptor
Harry Willis Fleming
Cultural historian
Art & Design Research Institute, Middlesex University, London

The artist, architect, and author Richard Cockle Lucas (1800-1883) was an intriguing creative figure of the nineteenth century who fell into obscurity despite his own extraordinary efforts to build a place in the historical memory. As well as producing skilled sculptural works in wax, ivory, and stone, Lucas's multi-disciplinary approach combined print-making, stained glass, photography, performance, building, archaeology, antiquarianism, collecting, and writing.
The Project includes:

Over 18-19th July, I displayed a large number of artefacts from the R C Lucas Archive at St Deny's Church, Chilworth -- the place where Lucas was buried in 1883. The exhibition was part of this year's Romsey Festival, and over 150 visitors came to the church. Lucas's association with Chilworth village runs deep, and I was surprised by the amount of information that was forthcoming about the artist.


mourning-flora.jpgOn the first day of spring 2014, an antique wax bust of the Roman goddess Flora was unveiled at the Art Workers' Guild in London, in front of an invited audience.

Colour photographs by Jane Wildgoose. Flowers by Sabine Maurer, Florescence.
High up on the wall inside the tower of the church of St Nicolas, North Stoneham, beyond a web of bell ropes, is the marble monument to John Fleming (1781-1844) made by Lucas in 1854. Within a sunk oval is a high-relief portrait. Pevsner's Buildings of England called it 'very elegant and skilful'.

Casting by Matt Nation of Taylor Pearce:



I will be taking part in a gallery discussion with the Henry Moore Institute at Leeds Art Gallery on Wednesday 19 February at 4pm.

"Sophie Raikes (Assistant Curator, Sculpture) and Pavel S. Pys (Exhibitions & Displays Curator) will be joined by former Henry Moore Institute Fellows, Dr Gulru Cakmak (University of Massachusetts Amherst) and Harry Willis Fleming (Middlesex University) and artist David Batchelor to discuss qualities of surface and colour in the current Leeds Art Gallery sculpture collections displays, Polychromies: Surface, Light and Colour." Included in the exhibition is Lucas's wax head of a girl.

For further information, see Henry Moore Institute events.


January 25, 2014
Fern fever in the R C Lucas Archive:

The artist pictured with a specimen in the Chilworth woods.

Nature print - labelled 'Madeira fern'.

Ink drawing.
This emblematic portrait of Lucas can be found in several of the artist's albums:

In turn, within the photograph itself there is an album at Lucas's side. Lucas rests a hand protectively on the book's edge while staring rather beadily back at the viewer.

The actual album in the photograph survives:

Titled 'Some of my Studies in Nature-Printings, Etchings & Photography', it was complied by Lucas in 1871. Today it is amongst the extensive archive of material - the R C Lucas Archive - that I am curating for the project. I will be posting details of items from the Archive on this website throughout 2014.